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The top 20 iconic places to visit on England's Coast

Sticks of rock, donkey rides, Punch and Judy – few places are more nostalgic than the seaside. But now there’s a chance to vote for the greatest icon of them all!

From piers to 2p Pushers!

We’re blessed with memory-stirring seaside beacons all around our shores. The Seaside Heritage Network has compiled a list of 20 icons; scroll down to see what the public voted for as their top 10. 

Bournemouth Beach Huts. With 3,700 and the world’s oldest in its care, Bournemouth can rightly claim to be the bastion of beach huts.  From cool overnight beach lodges to rustic huts to pull on wetsuits and have a cuppa, the coast wouldn’t be the same without beach huts. 

2pm Pushers. Simple, inexpensive family fun, apparently two-thirds of the population visit seaside arcades each year. When the heavens open, pushing a few 2p pieces into the slot is surely one of the best family holiday treats. 

Blackpool Tower. Blackpool’s tourism bosses describe Blackpool Tower as the defining icon of the British seaside. From the world- famous Ballroom to the Circus and beach-themed Harry Ramsden’s, they do have a point. 

Scarborough South Cliff Gardens. The magnificent facelift to the Victorian gardens on Scarborough’s South Cliff includes winding pathways, restored shelters and cliff lift, clock tower café, beach chalets and putting green – seaside bliss! 

Llandudno Pier. Dubbed the Queen of Welsh Piers, this structure still features bags of Victoriana and great views of the Irish Sea. Add classic fairground rides and leisurely afternoon teas and this Pier really delivers on perfect seaside ambience. 

Jubilee Pool, Penzance. This superb Art Deco lido must be the most celebrated in the UK.  Restored in 1994 this seawater pool’s shape counteracts storm waves, what’s more it offers a warming Geo-thermal pool and café with jaw-dropping views. 

Morecambe Winter Gardens. Another renovation triumph, this stunning ‘Albert Hall of the North’ was built to allow a ‘mill girl to feel like a Duchess for a day’. This lavish concert hall has placed theatre firmly back at the very heart of Morecambe. 

The top 20 iconic places to visit on England's Coast The top 20 iconic places to visit on England's Coast
The top 20 iconic places to visit on England's Coast

Thanks to the Victorians we have iconic seaside resorts

Ride a donkey or a carousel, go rock-pooling or munch fish ‘n’ chips, there’s nothing like the British seaside 

Weymouth Clock and Promenade. Nestled on Dorset’s famous Jurassic Coast and overlooking the resort’s wide, sandy beach, this brilliantly colourful clock is a much-loved fixture on the prom, add the backdrop of elegant Georgian houses and seafront gardens - it’s surely the quintessential seaside setting. 

Silcock’s Carousel, Southport. A mere 122 years old, this glistening carousel triggers childhood memories for the scores of visitors bringing generation after generation to Herbert Silcock’s Original Golden Gallopers who spin round on its 33 horses, to the strains of the Gavioli fairground organ. 

Southend Kursaal. Not all seaside heritage is in great shape. The Kursaal building on Southend seafront used to be packed with rides and sideshows, music and dancing into the night. It is currently empty but could be transformed, so vote for this and it could trigger transformational investment. 

The Expanse Bridlington. Blend heart-warming old-world charm with modern day luxury and you’ve got the superb Art Deco Expanse Hotel. Opened in 1937, this family-owned business has evolved with the times, along the way hosting The Who, Morecambe & Wise, Tom Jones and many more seaside visiting legends. 

Volks Electric Railway, Brighton. Board this train and you’ll be travelling on the oldest working electric railway in the world and joining the thousands of visitors who’ve chugged along the seafront since 1883. Its beautifully preserved Victorian carriages belong to a bygone era and create a wonderfully unique seaside experience. 

Papas Fish and Chips Cleethorpes. Everyone knows fish ‘n’ chips taste better by the sea and George Papadamou is so convinced he runs the largest chippy in the world on Cleethorpes Pier.  Every fillet is sustainably caught and potatoes hail from local Lincolnshire farms. Scrumptious! 

The top 20 iconic places to visit on England's Coast
The top 20 iconic places to visit on England's Coast The top 20 iconic places to visit on England's Coast

What a list! As Brits, we really do love to be beside the seaside

Rockpooling. Who doesn’t love unearthing secret treasures of the deep in your own rockpool? Each crab, mussel, anemone or fish becomes a prized treasure and a great learning in marine environments for youngsters. Better still, it’s free and available almost everywhere on the coast! 

De La Warr Pavilion . Known since it opened at the ‘People’s Pavilion’, this inspirational Modernist building buzzes with art, music and comedy. Open daily, the Pavilion is fully accessible and family friendly with some of the best Channel views on the south coast. 

Dreamland Margate. Slap opposite the golden sands of Kent’s earliest seaside resort, this world-class family attraction mixes vintage rides, pop-up entertainment, art displays and street food with a packed live music programme, the perfect mix of retro chic and up-to-the-minute entertainment. 

Donkey Rides on the Beach. For many, a donkey ride is synonymous with a day at the seaside and in Weymouth, the West Hill Donkeys are treated royally. “Riders treasure their time with these special, gentle souls; they stay in our hearts and memories long after we’ve left the beach,” says owner Melanie Llewellyn. 

Babbacombe Model Village. Created in 1963, visitors get to feel like giants as they enter the tiny entrance to four acres of gardens featuring amazing hand-crafted model scenes showcasing scores of intricately made vehicles, little figurines and landmarks. With a new Mythical Kingdom for 2023, this slice of seaside heritage rivals the best. 

Saltburn Cliff Tramway. One of the greatest examples of working seaside heritage, the Cliff Tramway is the oldest water balanced lift operating in the UK. A jewel in the crown of North Yorkshire, it was originally built to ease the passage of Victorians scaling the cliffs to the beach and remains the most fun way to get to the sea. 

Nardini’s of Largs. Scotland’s famous ice-cream parlour opened in 1935 and after a make-over, reopened in 2008 in its landmark Art Deco building. Blending its heritage credentials with a modern twist, this is must-visit attraction and a Scottish seaside institution. 

The Seaside Heritage Network is delighted to announce its inaugural Bucket and Spade List, the Top Ten favourite seaside places and experiences as voted for by members of the public.

1. Saltburn Cliff Tramway, Saltburn-by-the-Sea
2. Blackpool Tower
3. Morecambe Winter Gardens
4. Silcock's Carousel, Southport
5. Donkey Rides, Weymouth
6. Papa's Fish & Chips, Cleethorpes
7. South Cliff Gardens, Scarborough
8. Dreamland Margate
9. Bournemouth Beach Huts
10.Babbacombe Model Village